Cover image for The Biography of Muhammad : the issue of the sources
The Biography of Muhammad : the issue of the sources
Motzki, Harald.
Publication Information:
Boston, MA : Brill, 2000.
Physical Description:
xvi, 330 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
Life of Muḥammad and the Islamic self-image / Uri Rubin -- Sīra and Tafsīr / Marco Schöller -- Sīra and the question of tradition / Andrien Leites -- Mūsā b. / Gregor Schoeler -- Sīrat Ahl al-Kisā / Maher Jarrar -- Did the Quraysh conclude a treaty with the Anṣār prior to the Hijra / Michael Leckner -- Murder of Ibn Abī-Ḥuqayq / Harald Motzki -- Historical tradition about al-Ḥudaybiya / Andreas Görke -- Earliest Christian writings on Muḥammad / Robert G. Hoyland -- Muḥammad in the Qur'ān / Andrew Rippin.
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BP75 .B477 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This book deals with the controversial value of the sources on which the biography of Muhammad, the founder of Islam, is based. Discussions on this topic have been going on for more than a century but it has become especially debated during the last two decades.This volume contains ten articles which are the outcome of an international colloquium on the issue. Part one of the book examines the development of the Muslim tradition concerning the life of Muhammad while the other part focuses on the historical reliability of the source material.The volume reflects not only the most recent methodological developments in the study of the life of Muhammad but also the improvement of its material-basis due to sources which have only recently become available or which have been neglected.

Author Notes

Harald Motzki , Ph.D. (1978) in Islamic Studies, University of Bonn, habilitation (1989), University of Hamburg, is Associate Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Nijmegen (the Netherlands). He has published extensively on Islamic social, legal and religious history.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

No manuscript sources exist at all for the first two centuries of Islam. The first Muslim historians, writing in the third century after the hijra (the emigration of the Muslims to Medina), derived their information from the hadith, oral reports and sayings about the activities of the Prophet and the early community transmitted through the generations. Even these first historians realized that the hadith existed in varying degrees of "soundness"--that they could be and often were false--but they had nothing else to rely upon. Modern historians find themselves in an identical quandary. Some have argued not only that the sources are too faulty for a biography of Muhammed but that their very weaknesses may indicate that no such person ever existed. This collection of 10 essays seeks a way out of the impasse--and succeeds admirably in showing the possibilities of how to deal intelligently with the hadith without forfeiting all hope of finding historical reality. The authors, including editor Motzki of the University of Nijmegen, are well-known in the field of early Islamic history, and the book's format permits each contributor to utilize whatever historical method proved most promising. As a whole, the anthology displays the highest scholarly standards and should be included in any serious library of Islamic history. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Much like the modern debate over the quest for the historical Jesus, the views of Western scholars concerning the possibility of recovering the historical Muhammad have ranged from the radically pessimistic to the cautiously optimistic. The studies here, on the whole, are cautiously optimistic and form a rather marked contrast to the collection edited by Ibn Warraq in The Quest for the Historical Muhammad (CH, Oct'00). These ten essays, each authored by an established expert in the field, represent original research based on the Arabic sources and are painstakingly detailed and meticulous. Authors in both volumes agree that painstaking and detailed critical analysis of the Arabic sources will first have to be undertaken before the task of reconstruction can begin; until that work has been done properly and thoroughly, we can do little more than speak tentatively regarding the details of Muhammad's life as set forth in the traditional Arabic sources. Each study is accompanied by notes and bibliography, and the volume includes biographical author sketches and an index. An important contribution to the ongoing debate over the quest for the historical Muhammad. Highly recommended to all college and university libraries as well as those public libraries collecting in the history of religion. Graduate students and above. ; Boston University

Table of Contents

Harald MotzkiUri RubinMarco SchollerAdrien LeitesGregor SchoelerMaher JarrarMichael LeckerHarald MotzkiAndreas GorkeRobert G. HoylandAndrew Rippin
Introductionp. XI
I. The Development of the Sira Tradition
1 The Life of Muhammad and the Islamic Self-Imagep. 3
2 Sira and Tafsir: Muhammad al-Kalbi on the Jews of Medinap. 18
3 Sira and the Question of Traditionp. 49
4 Musa b. Uqba's Maghazip. 67
5 "Sirat Ahl al-Kisa'". Early Shi'i Sources on the Biography of the Prophetp. 98
II. The Historical Reliability of Biographical Source Material
6 Did the Quraysh Conclude a Treaty with the Ansar Prior to the Hijra?p. 157
7 The Murder of Ibn Abi l-Huqayq: On the Origin and Reliability of some Maghazi-Reportsp. 170
8 The Historical Tradition about al-Hudaybiya. A Study of 'Urwa b. al-Zubayr's Accountp. 240
9 The Earliest Christian Writings on Muhammad: An Appraisalp. 276
10 Muhammad in the Qur'an: Reading Scripture in the 21st Centuryp. 298
Contributorsp. 311
Indexp. 315